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What Is White Opal and Where Does It Come From

white opal from coober pedyWhite Opal is also known as milky Opal and it has a pale white appearance with bright flashes of Opal colour. On the body tone and brightness chart the body color of white Opal is N8 or N9. White Opal is capable of displaying any combination of spectral colors such as red, blue, purple and greens.

The major difference between this type of Opal and the Black Opal is that white Opal tends to have a subdued play of color since the body color of the stone is light. In black Opal because the body is very dark the play of color is much brighter.

In terms of production the white Opal is by far the most plentiful. In Australia the majority of the opal produced comes from South Australia. While New South Wales produces the precious black Opal it only accounts for a small percentage of the total Opal mined.

White Opal Locations

The majority of white Opal comes from the state of South Australia. The major fields include Coober Pedy, Mintabie and Andmooka.

Coober Pedy Opal

Coober Pedy Opal has been at the centre of international opal attention ever since it was discovered in 1915. Still to this day it accounts for 80-% of Australia’s Opal production.

Mintabie Opal

Mintabie Opal was once a major type of Opal however these days there is very little mining going on. Mintabie has also produced some very nice black Opal which is rare for that area.

Andamooka Opal

Andamooka Opal is generally the treated matrix of fairy opal that is seen today. However it does also produce some very fine white Opal that has some incredible color.

White Opal Vs Crystal Opal

When trying to describe opals there is a fine line between identifying one as a white Opal or as a crystal Opal. A crystal Opal is defined as any opal that is completely or partially translucent. As you can imagine a stone that has a translucent body color would begin to appear white in color.

White Opal can be opaque to translucent with a white body color. In the trade sometimes stones that cross over this boundary are referred to as white crystal opals.

Value of White Opal

There are a few reasons why this type of Opal is the cheapest form of solid Opal. Since it is abundance here is a large amount of it on the market. Rarity always plays a role in determining the value of gemstones and since this stone is not really rare the prices are much lower than the rare black Opal.

The other major factor is beauty. As mentioned previously the color intensity of white Opal is not the same as black Opal or even Ethiopian Opal. While there are exceptional stones that have incredibly bright colors, the majority of stones have a moderate color brightness.

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Comments

Opalplus

What a great article, so informative!

8th Dec 2015
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